Monday, August 7, 2017

How to Pack for College Like a Minimalist + Free Printable Packing List!

Hello, beautiful! I'm excited to be back and blogging now that my job as a dance-teacher-slash-camp-counselor has ended for the summer.

Today, I'm here to talk to you about a subject that has interested me for quite some time now: the KonMari method. Though I first learned about the method about half a year ago, I just finished up reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for the first time.

I can honestly say that this book changed my life! For example, I learned to let go of old mementos and treasure the memories instead, and I realized I don't need to constantly buy new clothes to keep up with the latest trends. But as much as I love Marie Kondo and all of her life-changing tidying tips, one thing I have been noticing as I continue to KonMari my room is that these tips could be better adjusted to meet the needs of college students like me.

For one thing, I'm not about to throw away all of my childhood souvenirs and crafts just because they don't bring me joy right now. After all, in college, I'm not old enough to predict what will (and won't) bring me joy as an adult, and what things I'll regret throwing out years later. For another, many college students - especially college freshmen - are in transition, and will soon find that things they used to love in high school no longer suit their style.

So, this won't be a straight-up post about the KonMari method, though I will introduce you to some of the basics I learned from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Instead, this is a post all about how you can apply Marie Kondo's advice to the packing process as a college student!

Especially if you're going away to college for the first time, packing can be a tricky and confusing process that's as much about deciding what you do and don't want as what you will and won't need at school. So, I'll not only be giving you the KonMari perspective on how to pack for college, but I'll also be providing the ultimate college packing list free of charge :) Just read to the bottom of this post to find out how to get your free printable download - and good luck with your journey towards sparking joy!

What is KonMari?

First thing's first: what the heck is KonMari? On the literal level, the word "KonMari" comes from a mish-mash of Marie Kondo's first and last names. However, on a deeper level, the KonMari method is a way of decluttering, cleaning and organizing your belongings - and your life! - in a very specific fashion. 

Marie (pronounced Marr-e-YAY) Kondo has been fascinated with cleaning since childhood, and has since discovered a foolproof method for tidying that will prevent you from relapsing into clutter and mess. According to Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, every step of the cleaning process must be performed in a specific order. That order is:

  1. Discarding. Before you can even think about finding a place for your possessions, you have to determine which belongings to keep and which to discard. According to Marie, the best way to do this is to tidy by category, rather than by location - which I'll talk about more in the next step!
  2. Tidying by category. As I mentioned, Marie believes you should tidy by category, rather than by location (i.e. start with clothing, rather than with the closet). To do so, she suggests you gather all of the items in that category on the floor. Then, you should hold them each one by one and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?" If yes, the item goes into your "keep" pile! If not, it's time to either discard or donate the item for someone else to enjoy.
  3. Tidying in order. Not only does Marie think you should tidy by category, but she also believes that there is a specific order for the categories of your home that you should tidy by to maximize your success. (As she writes in her book, Marie doesn't have a specific reason why she thinks this is the right order - she's just witnessed it work so many times for so many clients!) That order is as follows:
    1. Clothing. Yup, according to KonMari, the most important category to begin with is your clothes! That includes everything from tops and bottoms to socks, underwear, bags and accessories. (And don't forget your shoes, too!) 
    2. Books. Follow with your books. That means beloved paperbacks, old college or high school textbooks, cookbooks, guided journals and more should all come under scrutiny next.
    3. Papers. KonMari says you should then declutter your papers, which includes anything from old journals and notebooks to old paperwork that's been filed away for years. One tip for this category? Go paperless with your bank statements to prevent future clutter! (You can usually set this up pretty easily by logging into your online banking.) 
    4. Komono. Komono is the Japanese word for "miscellany," and includes pretty much everything but the kitchen sink that's left over after tidying! Important categories Marie highlights? CDs and DVDs, makeup, skincare and any hobby-related items, such as art supplies or sports equipment. 
    5. Sentimental items. Last but not least, Marie believes you should end with your sentimental items, since this category can be the most difficult to sort through and, inevitably, discard. Sort through any mementos you've been harboring, and decide which items are worth enough to you to spark joy! 
  4. Thank your items for their service. Even if you decide not to keep an item, Marie says you should honor your memories of that item and the purpose they served to you at the time. For example, if you come across an ex-boyfriend's sweatshirt, obviously trash it - but first say "thank you for making me feel loved all those years ago." Or, if you decide to toss an old book you loved as a child, say "thank you for bringing me joy during my childhood." Simple, but effective at reducing guilt as you discard! 
  5. Designate a place for everything. Marie Kondo's unofficial mantra seems to be "a place for everything, and everything in its place!" However, it's important that you finish the process of evaluating and discarding items before you move on to organization. Once every category has been sorted, and only then, you should designate a place for everything - and adopt the habit of returning everything to its place at the end of the day! 
  6. Let your items rest. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie stresses the energy harbored within the items you use every day. Your wallet, keys and, yes, even your phone all get tired out from constant use and carrying throughout the day. So, Marie suggests that you should unpack your bag and designate a resting place for your items at the end of each and every night. Not only does this make it easier to switch bags should you so desire, but it also helps your items recharge and better serve you as the days go on.

KonMari for College Students

KonMari makes perfect sense while you're cleaning your room: keep what you want, toss what you don't and designate a place for everything. However, how do you take what you learned from the KonMari method and apply it to the complex process of packing for college?

For one thing, packing for college is all trial and error. You'll likely be buying new stuff as you're getting rid of your old things, and you may discover that, after a year away at school, you never used half the things you bought in the first place. 

Thankfully, that's why I'm here! I went through the complicated process of applying Marie Kondo's wisdom to my college packing process already, so you don't have to. Here's what I learned from my KonMari journey as a college student getting ready to return to school - and here are my greatest takeaways for you to take with you:

  1. KonMari first, then pack. If you're living at home right now (which most of you probably are, since it's still barely even August), my best piece of advice would be to worry about discarding and sorting through your items before you pack them. If you try to pack first, then KonMari when you get to college, discarding will be more difficult - plus, you might not have as much free time to dedicate to cleaning anymore, and find yourself with even more clutter than you might have had if you had KonMaried your room over the summer. And please, don't try to KonMari and pack at the same time! It's much more effective to discard and put away your items, then decide which you're ready to pack and which you'll still need for the next few weeks. 
  2. See how long you can live without it. When it comes to packing for college, you might find that you're getting a lot of advice on what you do and don't need to buy for your dorm room. While some of this advice is legit (you definitely need that antibacterial mattress protector - just trust me on this one!), it's a little counter-intuitive to discard your old items just to make space for new ones to flow in. My approach? Wait a little while before I buy anything I'm not sure if I'll need or not. I'm moving into an apartment for the first time this year, so I have a lot of kitchen supplies to pick up. So, before I waste money and space on any unitaskers or random items - like a pizza cutter, for example - I've decided to try and live without them for as long as possible. If, and only if, I find myself wanting the item after I've already moved in, then I will give myself full permission to buy it. Until then, my rule is see how long I can live without it! It's actually kind of a fun way to challenge yourself and see how long you can live with less :) 
  3. Don't buy organizational supplies until you're done. Marie Kondo swears that most of the organizational tools you need are already in your home - and I agree! Once you discard items you're not loving lately, you'll probably discover that you have a lot of empty boxes - and I mean a lot. Luckily, repurposing old cardboard boxes is a fantastic way to organize your room and your life - I used old Birchboxes as sorters for my drawers and a nice way to organize my Kindle and charging cords on my bedside table. As for all those fancy underbed wheeling storage boxes and over-the-door hanging shoe organizers Target will try to sell you, wait until you actually finish unpacking and putting items away in your dorm room or apartment before you decide what to buy. Chances are, most of those storage items you thought were SO essential, actually aren't that necessary after all! 
  4. Designate a space for boxes. Just as you would designate a space for any of your important items in your room, you should designate a space for items that haven't been packed yet/any boxes you might fill during the packing process. Personally, I have a little corner nook in my room where I store all of my boxes and apartment supplies during the process of packing. This is just the method that works for me, but your designated spot might be in your closet, your basement, the trunk of your car or anywhere where you have room for moving boxes. Wherever you choose, make sure that you confine your packing clutter to this one place to minimize the mess and maximize your KonMari potential. 

To Get Your FREE Printable Packing List...

Congrats on sticking this post through until the very end! As a reward, here's how to get my printable college packing list 100% for free...

  1. Subscribe to my newsletter, Haley Marie Monthly, by entering your information below.
  2. Check your email to confirm your subscription.
  3. A confirmation email will hit your inbox with the link and password to my free printables library - be sure to bookmark it for future reference! ;)

Will you be trying the KonMari method? Let me know @haleymarieblog or in the comments below!

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